Web-Store Experiences Fail The Test

In the previous three posts, I examined interactions in a single channel. But we all know that consumers use multiple channels. That’s why our research also examines multichannel interactions. In this post, I’ll look at some recent research on Web-store experiences.

Web-Store Cross Channel Interactions

In a survey of nearly 5,000 US consumers, we found consumers using multiple channels. Here’s some of what they do when they’re shopping online:

  • 37% call a phone number they found on the site
  • 34% print out information to bring into a store

In addition to analyzing the consumer data, we also evaluated Web-Store cross channel experiences for both electronics retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City, RadioShack, and Wal-Mart) and department stores (JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Sears).

For each of the 8 firms, we tried to accomplish a user goal along two paths: one that started on the Web and then continued in the store and another that started in the store and then continued online. Our channel transition review evaluates the experience against six criteria that get scored from -2 (severe failure) to +2 (best practice), so total scores can range from -12 to +12. We consider +6 a passing score. Here are some of the findings from those evaluations:

  • None passed: Scores ranged from +3 (Best Buy) to -9 (Macy’s)
  • Electronics firms (average: -1.5) did better than department stores (average: -5.5)
  • The firms struggled with most of the six criteria:
    • 1. Can the user complete her goal in all required channels?
      (5 passed/3 failed)
    • 2. Can the user control how he interacts with the company?
      (3 passed/5 failed)
    • 3. Is information consistent across all channels?
      (only Radio Shack passed)
    • 4. Is language consistent across all channels? 
      (3 passed/5 failed)
    • 5. Is the user presented with a clear transition path across channels?
      (only Best Buy passed)
    • 6. Is the user’s context preserved across channels?
      (only Radio Shack passed)
  • A couple of recommendations: Make it easy to print out product pages (to bring with them to the store) and provide a clear product number on price tags (to find the same product online when they go home). 

The bottom line: Most companies’ Web teams and store/branch operations live in completely separate parts of the organization. But customers will not accept that as a good excuse for broken experiences. To improve these cross-channel experiences, firms need to create a cross-functional team that incorporates key people from the stores and from the Web.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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